Rachel Nichol writes about who her favourite leader is and why. Tell us who your favourite leader in comments below, or by using the hashtag: #MyFavouriteLeader
When Mary Barra was elevated to the position of CEO of General Motors in January 2014, she found herself at the head of an organisation that Forbes had described as “one of the most dysfunctional companies on Earth”. Not only had GM been bailed out of bankruptcy by the US Government in 2009 but, shortly after taking up her position as CEO, Barra had to deal with a catastrophic recall involving 28 million cars worldwide due to a faulty ignition switch which resulted in at least 19 fatalities. Suddenly the average Monday morning doesn’t seem so daunting anymore, right?
I can’t help but think that it takes a special calibre of leader to not only face these challenges head on but emerge from the other side in a positive light. Mary Barra’s leadership style has been described as everything from provocative to logical and methodical to military-grade but the one phrase that we see over and over again is inclusive. So how has her leadership style helped Barra to begin the transformation of General Motors?
According to several sources within GM, Barra has long been an advocate of creating an environment where all employees can feel comfortable in voicing their opinions, and then she directly provides feedback to them. This notion of providing direct feedback is something that is beginning to prove popular in a number of large corporations. Barra has also been praised for her exceptional listening skills and approachability. It is also worth noting that the culture of collaboration is something that Barra has worked hard to instil within the company; even going as far as holding “town hall” style meetings to seek fresh ideas and input on projects. For all the collaboration happening within GM, Barra is nonetheless prepared to step in and make the final decision. The Los Angeles Times has quoted her as saying “if we don’t have complete unanimity, I have no qualms about making it. I want tension in a constructive way to make sure we evaluate things from every angle”.
In order to tackle problems, Mary Barra realised she needed to build partnerships; both within the organisation and outside of it. Her leadership has also provided a platform for a happy workforce, which feels valued. I think there are many leaders who can look up to Mary Barra and learn from what she has achieved so far at General Motors.
Who is your favourite leader? Let us know in comments below, or by using the hashtag: #MyFavouriteLeader